Gaming grants increase: WAC receives $11,000, Whistler Museum gets $10,200 

Thousands of extra dollars arrive in Whistler groups' accountsBy Cathryn Atkinson

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Whistler's arts and community groups have unexpectedly received thousands of extra dollars in gaming grants promised to them a week ago by the B.C. government.

Doti Niedermayer, the executive director of the Whistler Arts Council, said WAC received $11,000 on Feb. 3 to add to the $11,000 they had already been granted for this year.

This means there will be about $2,500 extra for the Whistler Children's Festival, the children's programming at Millennium Place, and the Performance Series children's programming. Niedermayer explained they were obligated to spend the money on what they had originally applied for, rather than allocating it to anything else.

"What it will mean is that we augment, slightly, our programs... it's not a lot but it does make a bit of a difference, for sure, for each of those programs and I'm always grateful for any additional funds," Niedermayer said.

As reported exclusively in Pique Feb. 2, a spokesman for the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development said organizations that did not receive the full amount applied for to meet 2012 programming plans would have more money deposited in their accounts without the need to reapply.

This was in response to an announcement in January by B.C. Premier Christy Clark, reinstating $15 million in gaming grants, raising the fund to $135 million. The fund was cut from its original $150 million in August 2009.

The ministry said the monies would automatically appear in organizations' accounts around B.C. Up to 15 groups in Whistler could have received this extra funding.

Leah Batisse, curator and executive director of the Whistler Museum, said they had received $10,200.

"This means we have $20,000 for this summer's programming. It means all of our budgets for walking tours and children's Lego (competition) and Icon Gone have effectively been doubled. It's amazing," she said.

"We're super excited and happy. It certainly means a lot for our budget, for a small staff... it goes a long way to ensuring we can still offer programming to the community."

Batisse added that this does not cover the full losses in funding from when the gaming grants were gutted in 2009 by the province.

"In 2009, we lost $40,000," said Batisse.

"We were devastated. It's great to start seeing reinvestment in arts and culture in B.C. because I think it's an important aspect of what people experience in this province or partake in any activity."

As well, Whistler non-profits and charitable groups that were unsuccessful in their provincial gaming grant applications for 2012 are being urged to apply immediately for funds available this year. The B.C. government is holding this special intake for applications running until Monday, Feb. 13.

This includes groups that may have had part of their funding approved, say for children's programs, but could not apply for an adult program they wanted to offer because adult programming had been dropped from eligibility criteria.

Niedermayer said she was preparing an application for adult programming.

"We're very hopeful for some of the adult programs that we weren't anticipating. If I was going back to what we used to receive I would say that we might get $20,000," she said.

"That would make an impact on Art Walk and the Art Workshops on the Lake because they have been programs we've definitely had to cut back on."

Niedermayer emphasized that this was not extra money.

"No organizations are getting ahead," she said.

"The feedback has been 'Well, thanks for reinstating what you took away three years ago.' Which is basically what they've done... it's not new money. I appreciated it; I definitely felt a loss of that money over the last three years. We don't get to do something new."

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